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NFL-star-turned-dentist, John Williams, succumbs at 64

OW Staff | 7/11/2012, 5 p.m.

John McKay Williams, a National Football League offensive lineman from 1968 through 1979, died on July 8, in Minneapolis at age 64. He had recently been the recipient of a kidney transplant.

Born in Jackson, Miss., Williams began his athletic career as a stand-out football star in Toledo, Ohio. He received his bachelor's in education from the University of Minnesota in 1969.

During the time Williams spent in the NFL, he appeared in three Super Bowls: Super Bowl III and V with the Baltimore Colts; and Super Bowl XIV for the Los Angeles Rams. He played college football at the University of Minnesota where he was a First Team All-Big Ten tackle in 1967 and led the Gophers to a Big Ten title.

Throughout his life, Williams continued his civic engagement with the University of Minnesota and the larger community on many fronts, including economic development and won the Minneapolis Volunteer of the Year award in 1992.

But Williams was no one-trick pony. While in the NFL he used his time in the off-season to go to the University of Maryland and earn a doctorate in dentistry. Once he retired from the NFL in 1979 after a tearing a calf muscle, Williams opened his own dental practice in North Minneapolis.

Williams also was a private pilot and served on the Metropolitan Airports Commission, the governing board of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. He was appointed in 2002 by Gov. Jesse Ventura, and reappointed twice by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. During his free time,Williams flew small planes for fun.

The NFL star also led a prison ministry team, and at the time of his death was serving as the president of the American Odontological Forensics Society of America.

Williams is survived by his wife Barbara and three sons from a previous marriage.